The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Wednesday


Beach Glass
By Amy Clampitt


While you walk the water's edge,
turning over concepts
I can't envision, the honking buoy
serves notice that at any time
the wind may change,
the reef-bell clatters
its treble monotone, deaf as Cassandra
to any note but warning. The ocean,
cumbered by no business more urgent
than keeping open old accounts
that never balanced,
goes on shuffling its millenniums
of quartz, granite, and basalt.

                    It behaves
toward the permutations of novelty--
driftwood and shipwreck, last night's
beer cans, spilt oil, the coughed-up
residue of plastic--with random
impartiality, playing catch or tag
or touch-last like a terrier,
turning the same thing over and over,
over and over. For the ocean, nothing
is beneath consideration.

                    The houses
of so many mussels and periwinkles
have been abandoned here, it's hopeless
to know which to salvage. Instead
I keep a lookout for beach glass--
amber of Budweiser, chrysoprase
of Almadén and Gallo, lapis
by way of (no getting around it,
I'm afraid) Phillips'
Milk of Magnesia, with now and then a rare
translucent turquoise or blurred amethyst
of no known origin.

                    The process
goes on forever: they came from sand,
they go back to gravel,
along with treasuries
of Murano, the buttressed
astonishments of Chartres,
which even now are readying
for being turned over and over as gravely
and gradually as an intellect
engaged in the hazardous
redefinition of structures
no one has yet looked at.

--------

Got a piece of bad news today of such a magnitude that I think I'm incapable of processing it at the present moment, because I am just going about my life normally, trying not to think about it since there's not a damn thing I can do about it and nothing I can even do to ameliorate it till I can make some phone calls tomorrow and try to get more useful information. Did lots of useless research on the internet this afternoon after doing boring things like folding laundry while watching Heaven Can Wait on some cable channel where I discovered it -- that's my first memory of Warren Beatty and no matter what I've discovered about him in the intervening years, my affection for the movie and for him has stuck. Younger son had Hebrew, older son is supposed to be working on magnet high school applications...exciting stuff like that. I feel completely out of it and can't tell how much is left over from being sick and how much is psychological...am hoping it's being sick because that, at least, will get better.







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Trusting David E. Kelley was the right call, and anyway I would forgive Boston Legal for anything. Anything. I was counting on TV to keep me sane tonight and could not have had a better distraction. Picking up where we left off a mere two nights ago, Paul pops in to ask Denny whether he has seen Shirley. "Naked?" Denny asks. "Lately!" Paul corrects. Denny has not, for Shirley is still tied up in Lincoln's basement, where he sings to her on a ukelele and tries to feed her, airplane-into-hanger style with the spoon. He says he wants to suck on her ear, then threatens her, and she says, "Suck my lobe." As it turns out, Gracie Jane is going to recover from Lincoln's assault and appears on TV, bragging that she gets hit harder during sex. Though she can't name her assailant, Lincoln brags to Shirley that it was him, and shows her that he has a spring-loaded crossbow that will go off and shoot anyone trying to come in to rescue her. Meanwhile, Paul advises many of the other lawyers that Shirley is missing, though Claire suggests that sometimes old people just slip off to have work done discreetly.

Denny is depressed that his murder case went away while Alan still has one, but Alan is worried about the circumstantial evidence against Erica...whom he believes probably did kill Paula. Though Jerry is nervous when he is unable to convince Erica to plead insanity for plea bargain leverage, he performs very well in court, pointing out that two people -- Paula's ex-husband and her most recent lover, Renee -- both stood to gain financially from Paula's death while his client hasn't been proven even to have touched the rope around Paula's neck. Renee is upset to be on Jerry and Alan's witness list, but comes across far more normal on the stand than in the stiff, sociopathic way she talks privately, while the husband seems sincerely broken up. On the balcony at the firm after a tough day in court, Jerry admits to Alan that his fantasy in law school wasn't ever to try a big case per se, but to have a drink at the end of a day with co-counsel and discuss the case, "the whole socialization of lawyering that till now I've never experienced." Alan says it's called friendship and offers a toast to it, but as they clink glasses, Denny looks out, sees the two of them and demands, "On my balcony?" Alan says, "Denny, it's not what you think...we were just talking!" but Denny insists that he heard what they were saying and storms off. Later, at dinner with Bella, Denny admits to being unhappy and she says, "Come home to Bella. I'll let you crawl into my warm spot," which makes him pause with his chopsticks halfway to his mouth.

The police say it's too soon to consider Shirley a missing person, but Denise is worried about Lincoln and his "special interest" in Shirley which Denise thinks may be linked to his pathological desire for media attention. Lincoln gets furious when Shirley head-butts him rather than letting him feed her and is further disturbed when Brad and Claire drop by (having decided Mister Dirty Mouth should not be a part of their reconaissance team); they claim the police are still interested in Lincoln as a suspect in the judge's murder, but he sees through their scheme to get inside his house and refuses to let them in. Shirley tries to figure out why Lincoln lived his whole life within the boundaries of the law but is now off the edge, wondering if it was the death of Marsha Hooper that pushed him over and if it's hard for him to go on without her. Lincoln says that Marsha was kind to him and does not want to discuss the restraining order she took out against him. Then he admits that he has no idea how the current situation will end -- he didn't mean to harm Shirley, but has painted himself into bit of a corner -- and Shirley tells him that if this is a game, he wins, because she's afraid.

Jerry announces that he's a walking lie detector; he is certain that Erica is telling the truth when she says she doesn't have it in her to commit murder, while Renee is not being truthful and Paula's husband is holding something back. Alan is fascinated by the idea of Jerry as a human polygraph and says, "One of the reasons I'm drawn to you..." just as Denny comes around a corner, overhears and storms off to his office. When Alan follows, Denny tells Alan not to talk to him. "It's not like I went fishing with him," Alan tries. "And don't make fun of me!" Denny snaps, pointing out that most men don't even make the time to talk to their best friends, let alone have a cigar. "That's not something most men have." He doesn't think jealousy and fidelity are exclusively the province of romantic relationships.

Alan agrees, though that's not enough for Denny, who says, "What I give to you, what I share, I do with no one else." Denny likes to think that what Alan gives to him, Alan gives to no one else, either, and Denny hates the idea of a connection between Alan and "that man" from whom Alan might get something that he doesn't get from Denny. "I probably do," Alan concedes, "but gosh, what I get from you, Denny." Then Alan talks about how people walk around these days calling everyone their best friend, so that the phrase has no meaning, and when you tell people you love them, it barely registers. He pauses. "I love you, Denny. You are my best friend. I can't imagine going through life without you as my best friend." Denny is just about to get teary when Alan says he's not going to kiss him, and Denny splutters that he doesn't want Alan on their balcony or any balcony alone with "that man."

While Brad is telling Paul that he can sense Shirley in Lincoln's house and wants to storm the place -- despite Denise pointing out that last time Brad stormed anyplace, he cut off a priest's fingers -- Alan comes in, asks what's the matter and is told that they believe Lincoln has abducted Shirley but the police won't do anything. Without blinking, Alan says Lincoln admitted to him that he had taken Shirley, so let's tell the police and then they'll get a warrant. The police are doubtful about whether the "confession" is true, but Paul asks the officer in charge which side he wants to risk erring on. While they are racing to Lincoln's house, Alan returns to court with Jerry, who has just discovered the fine print in Paula's life insurance policy. Armed with that information, Alan leads Paula's husband into a line of questioning that ends with the husband admitting his discovery that Paula had killed herself, and, desperate for the money in a life insurance policy with an exemption for suicide, he tied her wrists to make it look like murder. Ecstatic when the judge then drops all charges against Erica, Jerry hugs Alan, who says, "Let's hope Denny doesn't walk in."

Brad wants to join the police raid on Lincoln's house. When they refuse to let him, Jeffrey asks him why he doesn't tell them he's practically a Navy SEAL. Hearing the police enter, Shirley realizes that the room she is in is not soundproofed; she shouts and Lincoln threatens to shoot her, but when the police force the door, he is shot instead by his own crossbow and wounded. Shirley walks out and says that before anyone starts hugging her, she wants to know whether they had the presence of mind to bring vodka. Back at the firm, Denise tells Alan that Shirley was unharmed and wouldn't go to the hospital, so Alan suggests that they celebrate, saying that Denise reminds him of a Catholic schoolgirl who... But just then Shirley arrives, and Denise runs over to hug her, and Shirley tells Alan that she knows he falsified an affidavit -- something she cannot tolerate as a partner, and which will get him fired if he does it again. "No doubt," says Alan. Then Shirley thanks him for very likely saving her life, Alan starts exactly the same Catholic schoolgirl speech he had been giving Denise when Shirley arrived, Shirley tells him to get a life, and Denise follows her out of the room.

Alan still believes that he will get Shirley one day, though Denny assures him that he will not. On the balcony with him, Alan talks about how the brain confuses fear with passion and asks Denny about the fate of his Shirley sex doll, which the police took in for questioning. Denny apologizes for having doubted Alan's feelings for him, but Denny is still traumatized about seeing Alan on the balcony with "that man" and wonders what it is about the place. It's out on ledge 14 floors from death, Alan points out, which gives them a sense of mortality. Denny declares that he wants his remains sprinkled over the balcony and asks Alan whether he can think of anyplace better, which Alan cannot, though since he doesn't want to be cremated, he suggests in his own case yelling "Look out below!" And Denny finds himself happy with the night, the Scotch, and his best friend even if he is high maintenance, so the two toast simple pleasures.

And oh, how I love this show.
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